The Flat on the Way to the Fair: Faith, Fire and Why Trials Come

God will take you where you do not want to go to produce in you what you cannot achieve on your own. –Paul Tripp

Inefficiency. Futility. Wasted time. Those are villains in my kingdom, three of my greatest foes. And they all piled into the van with me yesterday

9:30- The dew was still on the clovers and we-Cream Puff vouchers in hand- were off, like barn clothes after chores. State Fair was one of a handful of “non-negotiables” on our summer calendar; a taste of good Midwestern fun for our Korean exchange son, Ki-Bum. 

State Fair or Bust.

9:45- KER-PFUMP, KER-PFUMP, KER-PFUMP, KER-PFUMP.  So our right rear tire unceremoniously gave up its ghost. And the van came to rest along a lovely bachelor button-ed strand of I-43.

Rare, declared Ki-Bum knowingly. I nodded.  

Now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials…

Thankfully, Jim picked up the phone. We have roadside assistance, he assured,  Can you find the card? 

I did. And was soon informed that help would arrive within the hour. A little while. Various trials. 

Hey Mom, can we watch some Get Smart?  Gabe piped up, as his fearful tears dried. I brought them along, just in case. And Agents 86 and 99 and the old “Spy in the dog suit, phone in the tie” tricks passed three boys’ time. Now I can get a jump on those email. 

11:00- A Nissan pickup stopped behind us. Never mind that the tow truck was on another call or the four larger towns with towing services closer than this town. Not this guy’s fault.

These older vans with spares underneath- they can be a bear to release, Scott explained as he turned the giant screw driver round and round. But the spare wouldn’t drop. So he jacked us up and worked below while I worked that stubborn screw from above.

Well, I’m sorry. Scott finally said. If I had the tow truck, I could probably break it  loose, but the cable’s corroded. And maybe  this time ask for Rhode’s when you call. They’re just right up the road.

11:20- Scott rode off in his rugged Pathfinder.

…So that the tested genuineness of your faith- 

As  Agent 99 assisted 86, an agent three states away assisted me. I calmly described the first failed attempt  to put on the spare. And maybe Rhode’s  Service this time? I heard they’re in your network and just a a mile or two up the road.

May I put you on hold? she asked. 

Ms. Wallace? We have located roadside service for you. It’s the same shop as the first, but this time they’ll come with a tow truck. They should arrive in 45 minutes.

11:30- Here’s where my faith  faltered: Really? Really? You can’t find anyone closer? East Troy? Elkhorn? Waterfod? Burlington? Rhode’s is right up the road! I’ve been here almost two hours and there’s a town with a towing service a mile away. Scott-who you sent first -told me. 

Yes, Ms. Wallace. Your service should arrive within 45 minutes. They’ll be able to tow your vehicle, but you’ll need to secure a ride home. 

-More precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-

Tow it back? I just have a flat. The spare is right here. Their shop is 30 minutes south. We’re headed 30 minutes north- to the fair. And I’m supposed to secure a ride? 

Yes. I’m sorry, Ms. Wallace. Your tow should be there in 45 minutes. Is there anything else I can do for you?

Images of cream puffs and jersey cows and racing rabbits danced out of my head. Unlikely, I said.

11:40- What to my wondering eyes should appear but a Rhode’s tow truck behind me right here! Forget 45- this took 10!  I leapt from my seat to meet the Ken. He glanced at the flat, then down at his phone, Oh wait. You’re not the red ’05 Escape, are you?  

That’s probably the one up there, I said, pointing to the SUV that stopped on the shoulder a half hour after we had.

Sorry, ma’am. That’s the one I came for. Maybe I’ll check in with you after.  And Ken inched his truck up to the red ’05 Escape just ahead.

…May be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Chaos agents had captured Maxwell Smart and 99.

11:45- Jim, This is crazy. I’m waiting for the same towing service that couldn’t help me to come back as I watch a tow truck from a garage 2 minutes away helping a a vehicle 300 yards ahead. And Rhode’s does partner with our roadside assistance- Scott and Ken both told me so and how do I find a ride when they tow the van? 

Hon. I’ll see what I can do. Maybe Merten’s can tow you back to town. Sorry about the fair. 

God will take you where you do not want to go – or stall you where you do not want to stay- to produce in you what you cannot achieve on your own.

12:00- I paused my pity-party just long enough to see Ken’s truck backing toward us.

12:05 -Bring ‘er on up, Ken urged. So I eased the van onto the flatbed and all five of us crammed into the cab. Rare, I told Ki-Bum. And before Ken and I could connect all the dots around my Uncle Kevin who had been Ken’s friend, we were stopped in Rhode’s lot.

12:30- On the road again. State Fair or Bust. Or whatever’s necessary.

Why Trials Come

I wish I could say that Paul Tripp quote guided me through the flat. But I absolutely cannot.

But thank God, I can see it in the rear-view. I can see the grumbling, ungrateful, proud, impatient dross that tarnished my faith and needed boiling off. It was necessary.

So God allowed the blow-out. Then he sent Scott, without a tow truck, and Ken to the red ’05 SUV in front of us. He held off Rhode’s from up the road. All of it was in his good plan, to purify the precious faith He loves so much, a faith of greater worth than gold.

So why do trials come? I’ll answer that one with three more from Paul Tripp:

What kind of Messiah do you want? Do you want a Messiah that will deliver to you your ever-morphing definition of what would make you happy? Do you want your Messiah to make your kingdom work or do you want a Messiah to welcome you to a better kingdom?

I don’t know about you, but I want Him to welcome me to a better kingdom than my own efficient, productive, no-wasted-time little kingdom. More even than an idyllic morning at my beloved State-Fair kingdom. Way, way more.

A Sure Sign Of His Love

So I’m with Tripp: We’d better quit naming our trials and difficulties as a sign of God’s unfaithfulness and inattention. In the life of a believer those trials are a sure sign of His faithful, persevering, redemptive love. And with the Getty’s too: When trials will come, no longer fear, For in the pain our God draws near, To fire a faith worth more than gold, And there His faithfulness is told. 

God will trouble and shake us and allow trials that boil our faith, not because he’s mean and capricious but because he loves us and wants to welcome us to a more glorious kingdom. But it might feel dangerous, because he won’t relent until our faith is refined. Until we glisten with the image of His beloved Son.

Waiting in the van, I heard the Chief of Control say, Max, you realize that you’ll be facing every kind of danger imaginable? Max replied, And  loving it. 

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith- more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor.
 1 Peter 1:6-7

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *